Think of where you want to add muscle. I know you have a few spots in mind. And these spots are probably your trouble areas — areas that don’t seem to add muscle quite as well as rest of your body.
Everyone has them. And acknowledging them — and wanting to build them in portion to the rest of your body — shows that there’s a little something more to physique than just questing for absolute muscle mass.
It’s about absolute proportional muscle mass.
And the proportion most everyone is after?
The X Physique. The X Look. The X whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-call-it. See The X-Physique Part I – What It Is, Why You Want It, and What You Should Know About It and 5 Old School Methods for New Muscle if you aren’t familiar with this fabled body frame.
And as for developing the the X Physique?
Don’t worry — I got you covered. Just do these things, not those things.
Do This, Not That for an X Physique
Do some kind of chin-up every day. Never go to failure either. Slowly and steadily increase volume over time.
Don’t avoid chin-ups in favor of rows. Chin-ups are difficult, I know. But don’t be an idiot. If your elbow is giving you problems find a way to do chins with a neutral grip.
Do your curls with a thick grip. They’ll help your biceps grow, especially if you’re skinny. And biceps can go a long way in creating a pleasing physique from the front. Fat Gripz do wonders for this.
Don’t toy around with curl variations; pick one or two and work with them over time. Heed the thick grip recommendation above. (Hint: barbell curls and hammer curls are the answer here.)
Wear shirts that fit tight around the neck. It de-emphasizes your lackluster upper chest. Just make sure it isn’t so tight that it makes your lower chest look like you have a C cup. (Unless you’re a chick, in which case this is a good thing.)
Don’t wear loose clothing. Be picky here. Make sure you try your clothes on before buying them. They have to fit your body right. Clothes can make a big difference.
Do a bunch of chin-up variations, pull-ups included. Sure, we do chin-ups frequently. But you don’t have to drone yourself into one variation. Sternum chin-ups, front lever pull-ups, and basically any variation where you’re hanging on something works.
Don’t do nothing but chin-ups, your elbows won’t be happy. Mix in some pull-ups at the least. Buy some rings if you can. Have fun.
Focus on the muscles you need to grow. Look at yourself and see what muscles need to be bigger. It’s probably the shoulders and lats.
Don’t focus on muscles you want to shrink. They won’t. Nothing’s going to shrink your waist. It will grow with everything else. The key is making the muscles in the point above grow that much larger in comparison.
Do incline presses on a 30 degree incline. It will hit your upper chest best. A 45 degree incline shifts most emphasis to the shoulders.
Don’t flat barbell bench press. Unless you’re a powerlifter, in which case, why the hell do you care about proportion?
Pick stuff up and put it overhead; this requires a lot of lifting on your own feet. Picking stuff up will make your back grow. Getting it into a position to press it overhead will make your upper back grow. Putting it overhead will make your shoulders grow. Are you seeing why this is important?
Don’t do a lot of things sitting down. Incline bench pressing. That’s about it.
Do a lot of things where your hands support your body weight. Chin-ups, dips, levers, handstands, planche practice. (Rings help with this.)
Don’t let the bar be your only form of upper body resistance. Putting your body weight to use in challenging ways does wonders — especially if you’re progressing to straight arm gymnastics ring work.
Front squat. It will hit the upper back in a unique way.
Don’t get fancy with leg exercises; the barbell is the solution. Squats. That is all.
Pull with a snatch grip sometimes. This can be power snatches, snatch pulls, or snatch grip deadlifts.
Don’t forget about conventional deadlifts. It’s still the base pulling exercise. Get good at it.
Do barbell rows with your back parallel to the ground. You’re going to be doing enough pulling with your body vertical.
Don’t ditch barbell rows in favor of dumbbell rows; your troubles can be solved here. Old timers used to barbell row on top of a box to get a full stretch at the bottom position. The barbell and the stretch are the take home points.
Do some Olympic lifting. See the part about getting stuff to your shoulders and putting it overhead.
Don’t do shrugs. You’re better off doing another exercise that will contribute to something else too. Just do your deadlifts and finish with a shrug.
Get to your solid base.
Don’t think you need to be 200 pounds to look good. Frank Zane — who many considered to have had the “best” physique — only weighed 185. And that was likely with performance enhancing drugs in his system.
Overload chin-ups with sub-maximal volume. If you add one rep to the total amount of chins you can do every week, you’ll be up 50 reps within a year. It won’t happen, but it shows you the power of volume over time.
Don’t overdo weighted chin-ups. One session per week at max.
Flare your elbows on your rows and use some oomph. Flaring your elbows will hit your upper back more. This is a good thing. Also use your legs a bit to get the weight moving. The upper body will be further overloaded by the increased weight you’re using. Don’t flop like a fish or anything, just use a controlled boost.
Don’t row with super strict form. No one that does is worth a salt. Learning how to create and use force with a little extra body movement is key in almost every lift. Why do you think old time Olympic pressers shifted their hips back and forth on the press?
Go train now. You won’t get the physique you want reading articles online all day.
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